Connection Options Explained: DVI, HDMI, S-Video, Composite, Component, Coax

Connection Options Explained: DVI, HDMI, S-Video, Composite, Component, Coax
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Connection Technologies

There are two types of display connections for your computer: Analog and Digital. Analog connections are the less precise of the two. Analog connections usually must be converted from the original digital signal in the computer to an analog signal during transmission, and then converted back to a digital signal at the display. You will likely use analog connections to connect only very old computer monitors. Otherwise, you’ll use digital.

Connection Cables and Ports

Here are the main types of connections you’ll encounter:

Digital video interface (DVI) is an up to 24 pin digital video connection. It is used to connect to digital displays and is appropriate for HD video. DVI carries analog data as well as digital data. There are four types of DVI connections, DVI-DL (Dual Link) DVI-A (Analog), DVI-D (Digital), DVI-I (Analog and Digital). DVI is used for LCD, Plasma, and Projection displays. This is a DVI port, which you might find on the back of a computer tower.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)


is a 19 pin digital video and digital audio connection similar to DVI. An HDMI connection carries both digital audio and digital video in an uncompressed high quality format. HDMI is used for LCD, Plasma, and Projection displays. Here is an HDMI cable, which you might use to connect a computer tower to a computer monitor.

Separate Video (S-Video) is a 4 to 7 pin analog video connection that is popular on computer video cards, digital video cameras, and similar devices. S-Video connections do not provide high bandwidth connections and therefore are not used for high definition video connections. S-Video is used for analog video.


This is an s-video port.

Composite connections use an RCA type connector and carries analog video. Often it is paired with two other RCA connectors for the left and right channels of sound. The video connector is yellow, and the sound connectors are red and white. Composite connections are usually used to connect VCRs, game consoles, DVD Players, etc, to televisions, though composite connections are quickly being phased out for component video connections. Composite is also used for analog video. Here is a component cable.


Component video is an analog video connection that consists of three RCA type plugs and are red, blue, and green. This is similar to S-Video but it offers better high quality because data is transmitted on three wires instead of one. Component video connections can be found on new video game consoles, DVD players, and high definition televisions. Component Video is used for analog video and high quality video. Here’s an example of component video ports.

A coaxial connection carries analog audio and analog video. It is similar in quality to composite and s-video and has traditionally been used to connect devices, such as video game consoles and cable boxes to older televisions. You’re probably familiar with these types of connections, because it’s what’s used to connect your cable box to your TV.



  • The author obtained shots of these images on the internet from various royalty-free web sites.

    It is the author’s experience that HDMI and DVI offer the best computer to monitor connection, and that Coax cable is the most popular way to connect cable boxes and other tv equipment.